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Korean Products We Can’t Live Without

February 10, 2012

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Woohoo! This week’s topic comes from angelicad7 from Chicago, who asks

Is there a Korean product(s) you cannot live without and thought “Why wasn’t this introduced back home?”

Yay! Easy topic! We barely had to put any thought into this one. With the more serious topics, like the ones on Homosexuality in Korea or Bullying in Korean Schools, we really have to reflect for a long time about what we’re going to say. But, with this week’s topic, we felt like PFFT! Just turn on the camera and we’ll start yammering.

Seriously, Korea’s a really freaking cool country when it comes to technology. And we’re technology nerds, so this makes us very happy. Yes, we’re Apple fans as well, and – yes – Korea isn’t very Apple friendly, though it’s gotten a lot better since we got here with many more Apple retailers popping up. Come to think of it, I’m not sure if we own any Samsung products here in Korea. Note to potential Samsung Marketing People reading this blog: send us Samsung stuff. Also, don’t read the next sentence. Actually, we just remembered that our TV is Samsung. Nevermind!

Anyhow, the amount of technology here, and the connectivity of Korea is just overwhelmingly awesome. We mentioned a few of our favourite things in this video, but that’s just scraping the surface. Other awesomeness includes:

1) GPS in every car: It doesn’t come built in, but every car we’ve been in has a GPS monitor thingy on the dashboard. It gives you full directions, monitors your speed and lets you know if you’re going over the speed limit for that road, automatically detects if you’ve gone off course and tells you where to turn instead, blinks and flashes and makes noise if your turn is coming up. Oh, and it plays TV for you as well. Watch the game while you’re driving. No joke. These things should probably be illegal, but aren’t, probably because they’re so awesome.

2) Kickass Cellphone Signal: I have never dropped a call in Korea. NEVER. Rarely ever does the signal go fuzzy. Seriously. Even when we’re on the subway, UNDERGROUND. Do you hear that, Torontonians? We can use our cellphones when we’re on the subway, even if we’re at the bottom of a transfer point, with two other subway lines above us. We never lose signal. Not even a freaking blip. Oh, and people can watch TV on their phones as well. Holy crap-your-pants awesome

3) Robo Vacuums: We don’t have one yet, but we want one. I remember watching the CES this year, and seeing a video about a Samsung vacuum that has a camera built into it, so that it maps your ceiling and knows where it’s going. The video was all like “oooh this is awesome and the future” bla bla blah. Went to the Home Plus nearby the next day and saw it on sale. Old news here, boys and girls. Old news.

4) Bidets: Not a fan of them, personally. Don’t want water spraying up my bum hole. But we’ve seen tons of them here, even in public restrooms. TOILET TECHNOLOGY!

5) Motion Sensor Escalators: Haven’t seen these until we came to Korea. A lot of escalators have motion detectors. They turn off if no-one’s on them. If you’re about to get on one and it’s turned off, you pass a motion-sensor thingy that tells the escalator to turn on. FREAKING BRILLIANT!

6) Elevator Buttons that Turn Off: How is this not a standard around the world? Push a button on the elevator by accident? TURN IT OFF! Doesn’t this just make sense? Hell!

Ok that’s it. Maybe there’s more but we can’t think of it right now. I’m sure the question was expecting an answer more along the lines of what we showed in our Wonderful Treasure Finds series, but we never got the chance to gush about Korean technology. Not sure why Korea doesn’t promote that more. Korea Tourism seems to be all about “Come look at our mountains and temples and history and old traditions and stuff.” Forget that. I want to live in the future, and Korea’s offering me the closest chance at that.

Yeah! Also, there was a long scene that we found hilarious, but too long, and too irrelevant to include in the final cut. We present it to you here: here we are trying to call the cops…on each other.

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Korean Products We Can’t Live Without

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  1. The number keypad is in Ontario too. I’ve seen it in some houses in Ottawa. It’s awesome, the only problem is if the batteries are dead and you don’t have a key. Then it just makes a weird noise and you’re locked out. :(

    4 years ago
    • In Korea, they tell you when the battery is low and needs chaning. You are unlikely to be locked out unless you’re super lazy.

      4 years ago
      •  A little light will show up for the one I have and it goes a bit slower than usually. It’s just that we’re lazy :p We have keys now, so it’s all good.

        4 years ago
  2. they have the table bell in Gengis Khan restaurant in Markham :)

    4 years ago
  3. I wish we had table buttons. That way you could also get the attention of the server that is standing in the back laughing at you while you’re choking to death because you ran out of iced tea halfway through your meal and they just up and went on break or something. (OK, I’m done ranting now, Hee) The bank card thing would also rock…alot.

    4 years ago
  4. They have those table bells at Korean Restaurants in Annandale, VA! I wondered what it was!

    4 years ago
  5. can you guys do the cinnamon challenge? pweeeeeeeez. 

    4 years ago
  6. Like someone else said, the restaurant call buttons are in our local Korean restaurants too, though I’ve only used it once because we’re extremely patient… and sometimes shy. xD;;
    We loved the motion-sensored escalators, and I like that some buses ran on electricity. I’d love to see these everywhere~

    4 years ago
    •  Oil companies bought out all the patents in the early days so that electric vehicles dont have the light of day on the market.

      4 years ago
      • thats a pretty disturbing thought.. (patent buying and not using..)

        4 years ago
  7. I went to Taiwan recently and my uncle also had this huge GPS that we were watching TV on. Definitely not in *every* car, but I thought it was new and interesting. They’ve probably had it in Korean for longer though…

    4 years ago
  8. This all sounds so awesome… I really wish we had all these things here too! 

    I have seen the table bell, but as everyone said it’s in a Korean restaurant. When I went with friends before, we were scared to press the button because we thought it might be like an emergency situation bell and were waiting for the waiter to come and check on us. xD Now I’ll be able to press the button guilt-free!

    Now I wonder if I’m stupid to tip there? It is a Korean restaurant, but in the US we tip……

    4 years ago
  9. I’m sorry if I missed someone else asking, but where did you get the Wifi egg?  That seems like it’d be the most useful thing ever. 

    4 years ago
    • You can purchase them in carrier stores. If you live in the US, you can buy them from all the major cell phone service providers. It will be expensive though so be warned.

      4 years ago
  10. There’s a few places here in Texas that have the table bell too.

    4 years ago
  11. I live in Ktown and the restaurant buttons are common… in korean places. LOL
    There are keypads for doors, but they are expensive and are not easy to find or limited brands available. The little mobile wifi thing is expensive for what it is AND in most cases, not unlimited. Average about $50US for less than 5GB/month.
    The elevator thing seems to be in newer ones in the last 5-10 years, but a lot of people don’t know that.
    I want a Roomba, but my dog would attack it guaranteed. 

    Great vid!

    4 years ago
  12. I saw that table bell thing when I went to Japan, too.  It’s amazing how much it improves the experience for everyone—employees and diners alike.  My dad was all excited, saying he was going to make a version to sell in the U.S. and become a millionaire.  

    I think one of the main problems is, besides the tipping culture (which is crazy…just pay your employees a living wage, dangit!), I feel that Americans would just become further empowered jerks if given table bells.  Maybe you polite Canadians could handle it, but I can see a bunch of customers on a power-trip just ringing their table bells every two minutes to complain about something.  If everyone could be mature and not act like two-year olds, though, I’d love to see table bells at every restaurant I go to.

    Bidets are awesome!  I remember (again in Japan) my first reaction to a robo-toilet was “NOT SURE IF WANT,” but then I ended up realizing that they’re so much nicer than just using TP.

    And as far as the phone signal goes, I know that where I live (Washington D.C. area) we *can* get signals on the subway, BUT—and it’s a big but (ha!)—you can only get phone service if you’re on Verizon.

    With the electronic keypad, I dunno…I guess it’s nice in the sense that you can’t lose your keys, but at the same time, you have no control over who has access to your domicile if the password gets out—and no way of knowing that your security is compromised until it’s too late.  I figure the best way to stay safe would be to regularly change the passcode.  I suppose there’s not a whole lot of breaking & entering going on in Korea, though, so that’s not a huge concern for you.

    I’m also curious about the motion-activated escalators.  The thing I’d wonder about is if the constant starting and stopping results in more stress on the escalator than simply running it 24/7.  The energy savings are nice, of course.  I suppose engineers probably already thought of this stuff, anyhoo.

    Anyway, enough of me blabbin’.  Keep the videos coming!

    4 years ago
    • You can change the password to keypad whenever you want to. and if someone tries to open it and gets it wrong several times, alarm goes off so it’s pretty cool and safe.

      4 years ago
  13. “And there are wolves after me.”

    I loved that Simpsons episode.  High-five for you guys and your awesome Simpson’s quotes.

    4 years ago
    • OH! I’m glad you caught that…I’m a HUGE Simpson’s fan (well, mostly the older stuff…BACK IN MY DAY…..*Cough wheeeze*) and I used to win quote showdowns. Yup. Tons of useless info in my brain. -M

      4 years ago
  14. lol those key thingeys are used for my friends work, when they need to clock in for beginning work :P

    4 years ago
  15. GPS is a little more necessary in Korea then say Canada. Korea doesn’t have a lot of sense in urban development planning, or at least it didn’t until very recently. Building numbering is really random ~_~ I believe it was explained that they number buildings based on when they were built. So on a street, you could have 3, 56, 900, 7, 22.
    Also the GPS units tells you when you’re about to hit a photo radar trap!!! So you can go speeding down the highway until you get close to a radar, then you’d just slow down to the proper speed. Then, once you’ve passed it, ZOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM~~~~

    4 years ago
  16. That was a really good question!  All the fun things you can get in Korea… must have them!  XD

    4 years ago
  17.  Aww! Jealous! Now, My desire to visit S.Korea is much bigger!
    Soo. We are talking about technology in Korea. so.. how much cost e.g. iPad, iPhone and others popular stuffs there. Are these things cheaper than in US, Canada or Europe?
    Thank you for answer – in advance.  ^-^

    4 years ago
    • Technology is actually not cheaper.  We thought camera gear would be cheaper here, but here and in Japan it’s actually more expensive.  Also, if you want to buy it online cheaper back home, the import tax is crazy expensive.  The only thing slightly cheaper we’ve noticed are apple products because apple has fixed prices worldwide and Korea gives you the price (+tax) all in one base price, so if you convert that price, sometimes you’ll save a bit of money in the conversion.

      4 years ago
      • Hey guys! Quick technology question. I want to get an iPad to take around Korea for the year I am going to be there. I am leaving next Tuesday! yee-haw! Should I buy it here or in Korea? Or are there cooler tablety things I can buy there? Help please

        4 years ago
  18. wow i loved this video! tourists from S.Korea must think we’re in the stone age still when they come visit the US. tsk tsk tsk. I wanna live in the future!!! >.<

    4 years ago
  19. kudos to simonandmartina (and spudgy) you guys should get award from the Pres of Korea or something because i don’t know any one that promotes another country (not their own native country) so much like you guys!!!!!! u rok!

    4 years ago
    • u rok is funny because Republic of Korea

      4 years ago
  20. MONTERREY!!!
    <3

    4 years ago
  21. Do you mind if I ask what bank you use?  I’ve been with Standard Charter for the last year or so and have had nothing but problems with them.  I was thinking of switching to IBK in the next week.

    4 years ago
  22.  Canadians can stay in Korea for six months at a time without a visa.  U.S. citizens, 90 days. But it might be different in Simon and Martina’s case now.

    4 years ago
  23. The…700s!! LOL. Love you guise. <3

    4 years ago
  24. OH!!!!!!!!! is THAT the bell Key lied to Taemin about at the coffee shop?!?!!! i most definitely think it is (i think)
    excuse me but i think Key is very important!!! (sorry i had to be stupid)
    and i knew South Korea had the fastest internet in the world cos Onew said it!!! i seriously thought he was being his weird self but it’s true!!! (as you already know)

    4 years ago
  25. Ugh, you’re right about the expensive hotspot devices (in the US anyway.) On a daily basis I sell Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T. I also handle a crap ton of the prepaid companies. For a hotspot device on a 2yr contract it’s limited use to certain amounts of MB or GB per month and is ridiculously expensive. One of the prepaid companies offers a MiFi device also but you can get that one with unlimited data for 50$/month. Only kicker there is that after about 2-3 GB, it slows down significantly. Now here is the real drag about it where I live…. there is no 4G in my city yet. Soon, but not yet. This is what I have to deal with daily. Selling expensive devices with expensive plans to a poor city that can’t even use their “investment” to it’s full potential.  

    4 years ago
  26. OMG We do? Where, where? :O

    4 years ago
  27. Then you’re lucky the waiters hover…Because here in Germany I never ever see any…If you don’t tell them what you want the minute they ask….of they go to be never seen again…-.-

    And I totaly want that internet thingy *.*…Just bought something similar, where you can put a mobil phone sim card in (or from mobile Internet thingys, like I did)…great…really awsome…untill I found out that those awfully nice (….grrr) people from vodafone charged me more because it was out of my “Home area”…What the heck?!….
    I lost all trust in the humanity of mobile phone/network operators… T.T

    4 years ago
    • Tell me about it! I’m always getting reprimanded for the way I sell phones. For me it’s common sense. Don’t sell a service someone can’t afford. Don’t leave out the devices operation details, especially when it leads to cost concerns. Be explicit in the details for return and cancellation of services. And the most important, DON’T sell the consumer a product they don’t need. Each person’s life is different and thus their needs are different as well. For me, it doesn’t do any good to sell something that will be returned or to sell through false pretenses and get a complaint. UNFORTUNATELY, the companies don’t care. If I’m not selling the most and getting the most from the customer… whether they can afford it or not, then I’m not doing my job. Likewise if I’m getting a lot of complaints or returns, I’m not doing my job. 

      There really is no happy medium for consumers or the sales representatives. We all just get screwed. 

      4 years ago
  28. We’re getting the beginnings of a universal swipe card system too! It’s called “Paypass” and so far the only machines that take paypass are the same machines that take regular credit and debit cards. They just have an extra top to recognize paypasses Probably why I’ve never seen anyone in Canada use it yet. 

    (A combined data + phone plan is about $70 here ….. on contract. And a pay-as-you-go of data transfer of 500 mbs a month for an iPad is $25.) Canada is so behind…

    I’m so jelly of your 4G egg!  How much data transfer can you get for $10 a month?

    4 years ago
  29. Table bells would be AWESOME!!!  As far as I know we don’t have those here and we do have 4G hotspots but they are like unreal to pay for! :(

    4 years ago
  30. I envy your cellphone connections… A few years back, one of our bigger telephone companies had TV adds for: OH, now we can call each other from everywhere, even the middle of the wilderness (with the scene of a man in the middle of nowhere, calling his wife).

    Bull…

    Every midsummer I go to a friend’s summercottage. She has two mountains near, which block all connections. In short, there is one small hill you can call from. And I use this so mirculous connection they have.

    Not to mention train tunnels (only Stockholm has subway that I know of, so I haven’t tested).

    This brings me to the fact, i wish my city had subways, but sadly my city is also built like Amsterdam. Designed by them and sinking because of the close sea-connections.

    4 years ago
  31. omg the cellphone signal sounds awesome! There were soooo many times that I went in London underground and couldnt text/receive the text from my friend, simply because I was under the ground! One obvious problem we had was if you’re taking your friend on a London trip, they don’t really know the way around, and you forgot to make sure what to do in case we got lost…..then GAME OVER. We’re probably gonna be running around in London underground aimlessly cos there are sooo many stations.

    and

    Elevator buttons that turns off! YES! WHY CANT PEOPLE MAKE THIS THING UNIVERSAL! I hate when some asshole went into elevator and decided to press every button on there then you would have to wait for it to go floor after floor after floor…..

    4 years ago
  32. Damn it you guys are too awesome & ridiculously funny! Not sure if you guys remember me but I’m the Asian Australian who chased you two down the street at Hongdae a few weeks ago so excited to actually bump into you >.< Anyway, I second the point about table bells (I call it the 'Yogi-yo button", also lockers at EVERY station – WHY isn't this introduced? Also my chingoo's apartment has taps in her kitchen sink that PULLS OUT like a shower nozzle loch ness monster-like. One can shower IN THE KITCHEN! Asssa~!

    4 years ago
  33. Thanks for sharing the awesomeness~~! I wish we have those keypads on doors in Australia, I forget my keys too often and end up waiting outside for ages…and the only table bells I’ve seen are only in korean restaurants too >.< and the waving card thingy for ANYTHING, that's so convenient.

    4 years ago
  34. Have to say that I loved the bell thingys in restaurants when I visited Seoul. 

    I come from Finland where the waiters don’t get tips and don’t hover, but the problem is that u can’t find them. Getting the bill and paying takes like forever. Only until recently they started to come by and ask how’s the food, but other than that u have to search for them for many many many many minutes..Oh and I still have dreams about the internet speed. We felt the page downloads even before you press enter :D We have quite fast Internet in Finland, but nothing, NOTHING close to Korea! :D

    4 years ago
  35. I’m living in Japan from the states, and we have those bell ringers too!! They’re soooo AMAZING…I wish the states would get them lol.. Also..maybe I’m stingy but I kind of love the whole “no tip” culture heheheh :p 

    4 years ago
  36. Ah!  I know about it, but don’t have it myself.  I asked to have it installed on the iPhone, but they said it couldn’t be done :(

    4 years ago
  37. Hi from Ontario! So we now sort of have the magic wave-your-card technology. Some credit cards have it now, and they call it “pay pass”. I don’t think you can use it with a debit card yet though… 

    4 years ago
  38. If he’s shopping he wants anything apple – but he’s more interested in seeing cool stuff he hasn’t seen before and that’s what we as tourists might not find. He spent hours in a components mall in Shanghai – I darent take him to Tokyo. 

    4 years ago
  39. You know, I would SERIOUSLY love it if they had elevator buttons that turned off if pressed again. Where I work there are 12 floors (I work on the 10th floor), and every now and then, I accidentally hit a wrong button (or two if I’m seriously worn out from the day and I leaving work late.) Then I just sit there thinking I’m an idiot for not paying attention as the doors open to empty floors and take forever to close again.

    4 years ago
  40. Hi guys – visiting Seoul soon with a technogeek boyfriend. Any advice on places he should go to shop/coo in awe at strange electrical things? Personally I’m off to the Cat Cafe. 

    4 years ago